Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history: No. 47, Jim Donarski

This photo of Donarski appeared in the Oct. 16, 1952, edition of the Milwaukee Journal.

This photo of Jim Donarski appeared in the Oct. 16, 1952, edition of the Milwaukee Journal.

Position, years at Arizona: Lineman, 1950-52

Honors, accomplishments at Arizona: Was a second-team AP All-American in 1951, which was the highest major-college honor ever at the time for an Arizona player. … Earned first-team All-Border conference honors as an offensive guard in 1951 and 1952, and was a second-team performer in 1950 (the only sophomore on either the first or second team).

Why he made our list: Donarski was a two-year captain for the Wildcats, playing for coach Bob Winslow and then Warren Woodson as a senior, and leading strong rushing attacks that featured halfbacks Kenny Cardella and Gil Gonzales, as well as fullback Don Beasley.

Donarski, who was from Green Bay, Wisc., spent 56 hours on a train to arrive in Tucson, recruited by Arizona assistant coach Don Vosberg, who had played professionally with the New York Giants with Donarski’s coach at Central High, Ward Cuff.

“Don Vosberg came up to our area and picked up a few ballplayers from Green Bay and took us down there,” Donarski told TucsonCitizen.com this week. “But we had to make the team to earn a scholarship. They took us to Fort Huachuca for two weeks and beat the hell out of us before they gave us a scholarship.”

Donarski had a homecoming of sorts when Arizona played at Marquette in 1952 for the fifth game of its season. The Wildcats were averaging 291.3 rushing yards per game, sixth-best in the nation at the time.

“Arizona is very strong on the inside,” Marquette coach Liz Blackbourn told the Milwaukee Journal in 1952. “Its blocking from tackle to tackle is great.”

Donarski, a 180-pound offensive guard in the days of one-platoon college football, also played the defensive line (earning all-conference honors there, too) and was actually a three-way player. He also kicked field goals and extra points for the Wildcats, including a late-game PAT in 1950 as Arizona, a three-touchdown underdog, rallied to beat visiting Iowa State 27-26.

He was inducted into the University of Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

Life after college: Donarski, who did not play professionally, went into the Army in 1953 and coached high school football in Wisconsin and Michigan after he got out in 1955. He and his family moved in 1960 to Florida, where he taught (mostly science) at the elementary through high school levels until his retirement in 1987. Donarski, 81, lives in St. Petersburg, Fla.

In partnership with the Arizona Republic, we are counting down the top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history. Leave your top 10 at AG’s Wildcat Report on Facebook, and check out azcentral.com for the countdown of ASU’s Top 50 football players.

No. 50 — LaMonte Hunley

No. 49 — Hubie Oliver

No. 48 — Rob Gronkowski

Search site | Terms of service